In an earlier blog article I discussed the differences between an organic garden and a permaculture garden. Both have their applications and benefits. Sepp Holzer of Austrian permaculture fame, has turned his mountain top into a food-bearing oasis using permaculture methods, while Eliot Coleman has restored his Maine soil and provides unknown bushels of foods using organic methods. (Both books are in Meduseld’s Amazon store.)
Last year, we tried using a full permaculture method for our primary garden and had several challenges. The heavy layers of mulch created nitrogen excess and made our veggies delectable to insects. The helter-skelter method of sowing and planting made it hard for people to harvest if they did not have the day-to-day familiarity with the garden that I had. In plain English, my husband could not find the bean plants easily – so I had to do most of the harvesting. It also made it very hard to weed or to manually pick off insects due to the mini-chaos that ensued from helter-skelter planting.
Another negative that this method causes is that it makes crop rotation difficult if not actually impossible. Considering the diversity of plants we had planted in close proximity to each other, this year it is impossible to ensure that I am not putting cabbages again in places they were last year, or tomatoes – well, you get the point. As Mr. Coleman points out in his book Four-Season Harvest, crop rotation is a very important part of controlling insects naturally.
On the other hand, the key-hole beds and meandering paths made the garden far more picturesque and turned the garden into a destination instead of a chore. As a result, we are considering placing seats in the garden so that we can spend more time there.
So this year we are doing a modified perma-garden. I am planting things in sections and sometimes alternating two types of plants, such as onions and cabbages. This year’s garden also has far more flowers. At first my focus was on marigolds for their insect preventing properties, but then I expanded into other varieties of annuals such as petunias, alyssum, and ageratum. Is it possible that these flowers, in addition to being eye candy, might not also have other benefits? Do they draw beneficial insects or fix nutrients in the soil? It’s hard to believe that they would have only one function.
Although set back by a late May frost, the bulk of the plants survived and are starting to struggle past the cold spell. I wanted to share the progress. In case you’re wondering, the rocks are not stonehenge; they are my hose guides
PLEASE CLICK ON PHOTO TO EXPAND IT SO IT SHOWS PROPER PERSPECTIVE.